FRONT, from left, Senator Kwasi Thompson (East Grand Bahama), Vandea Stuart (South Abaco),
(back) Carlton Bowleg Jr (North Andros and The Berry Islands), Courtney Coulibaly (Centreville), Dr
Duane Sands (Elizabeth).
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
THE Free National Movement ratified five candidates for the next general election last night, including former Health Minister and Elizabeth MP Dr Duane Sands.
Other ratified candidates included North Andros and Berry Islands MP Carlton Bowleg, State Minister for Finance Kwasi Thompson in East Grand Bahama and newcomers Vandea Stuart in Central and South Abaco and Courtney Coulibaly in Centreville.
This FNM has now ratified 30 candidates for the next election. The remaining nine candidates are expected to be ratified next week.
The question of whether Dr Sands would be renominated by the party was among those that hovered over the FNM’s ratification exercises.
The Tribune was told there were no objections to his ratification when his name was called at last night’s council meeting, which took place at Holy Trinity Anglican Church.
Dr Sands did not shy away from stinging criticism of the Minnis administration after resigning from Cabinet last May and he has at times delivered the kind of commentary that has caused parliamentarians to lose the support of their parties.
He has opposed Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis’ recent extensions of the COVID-19 Emergency Powers Order and he blasted the government’s handling of people who went missing during Hurricane Dorian.
Last night, he said it reflected well on the FNM that he was ratified despite his criticism.
“I think that I have made it very clear that fundamentally I believe that the Free National Movement in its origin and its execution over the years has demonstrated that it is a big tent that is built on the power from dissension and an arrival to a consensus,” he said. “Sometimes that is a pretty process but certainly when you have the ability to be critical in a loving way, in a supportive way and the goal is nation building, I think that augurs well for the strength of our nation.”
Asked if he expects a Cabinet post if the FNM wins the next general election, he said the issue is a premature one, adding that the party must now work to secure the support of Bahamians.
The FNM presented its five candidates in a statement last night.
“Carlton Bowleg has delivered solid leadership on infrastructure developments throughout the Family Islands, such as refurbishing a number of roads and bridges, installing new water lines and establishing new government buildings,” it said.
“Kwasi Thompson has led on both the digital transformation of our government and on infrastructural improvements, creating a more modern government prepared to address the needs of Bahamians in the digital age.
“Duane Sands has been instrumental in helping to upgrade our medical facilities and making sure The Bahamas is adequately resourced to maintain healthcare as a top priority for the government.
“The FNM is also proud to ratify new candidates, Courtney Coulibaly who is an experienced engineer and expert in infrastructure development, and Vandea Stuart who’s successful career in tourism and hospitality will bring important perspective and fresh ideas to advancing the FNM’s agenda to help our tourism industry reach new heights.”